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Rushing to establish the rules of the road for the upcoming national elections, federal courts in recent weeks have issued a cascade of decisions rolling back restrictive voting laws enacted in the aftermath of a major Supreme Court decision.

In 2013, the high court struck down a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. No longer would areas of the country with a history of discrimination in voting be required to pre-clear all changes in voting laws and procedures.

Even if fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad doesn't medal at the Rio Olympics, she is set to make the history books.

Once she hits the fencing strip for her first bout in the women's individual sabre competition on Aug. 8, she will become the first U.S. Olympic athlete to compete while wearing a hijab.

Twice a day, Angela and Nate Turner of Greenwood, Ind., put tiny strips that look like tinted tape under their tongues.

"They taste disgusting," Angela says.

But the taste is worth it to her. The dissolvable strips are actually a drug called Suboxone, which helps control an opioid user's cravings for the drug. The married couple both got addicted to prescription painkillers following injuries several years ago, and they decided to go into recovery this year. With Suboxone, they don't have to worry about how they'll get drugs, or how sick they'll feel if they don't.

Protesters holding up pocket constitutions were reportedly ejected from a Donald Trump rally in Portland, Maine on Thursday. Video from the rally shows protesters standing and holding the booklets in the air. Campaign staffers shortly thereafter removed the protesters, CNN reports.

"ISIL has not had a major successful offensive operation in either Syria or Iraq in a full year," President Obama said Thursday in comments assessing U.S. efforts against the extremist group.

Two years ago, "to many observers, ISIL looked invincible," he said. But now: "ISIL turns out not to be invincible. They're, in fact, inevitably going to be defeated."

President Obama dismissed GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's comment this week that the election may be "rigged" this year.

Employers in Massachusetts will be barred from forcing prospective employees to divulge how much they were making at their last job. The change, effective in 2018, is part of a sweeping new equal pay measure Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law on Aug. 1.

The law's goal is to prevent women from being stuck in a cycle of low salaries.

Many medical studies involving children never end up being put to use because scientists frequently don't publish the results of their work, according to an analysis published online Thursday.

The findings raise both scientific and ethical issues regarding research on this vulnerable population.

Who's leading Boko Haram?

Cracks are forming at the highest levels of the Nigeria-based extremist group, as NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports. The Islamic State has officially named Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the militant group's new leader and says he will pursue a different strategy — but the old leader, Abubakar Shekau, says he's still in charge.

Ofeibea explains the tension to our Newscast unit:

One year ago — on Aug. 5, 2015 — an EPA crew at the Gold King Mine in southwest Colorado accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of orange water filled with mercury and arsenic.

The toxic spill flowed into the Animas River, eventually running into New Mexico's San Juan River and into Lake Powell. So far, disaster response and water quality monitoring have cost the EPA about $29 million — and the problem isn't over yet.

We will get back to the news in a minute. But first, a public service announcement from the Philadelphia mayor's office regarding dumpster pools.

It comes from Karen Guss, communications director for the Department of Licenses and Inspections, who told The Two-Way that it was "just another day for us":

The U.S. Supreme Court is temporarily blocking a transgender male high school student in Virginia from using the boy's bathroom.

You may know mead — an ancient alcoholic beverage made from water, honey, and yeast — as a drink that's popular among Renaissance fair-goers and Game of Thrones fans.

Meadmaker Andrew Geffken is on a mission to add another group to that list: the average beer drinker. At Charm City Meadworks in Baltimore, Md. — he's experimenting with modern takes on this age-old drink.

Now here's a political endorsement you might not expect.

Hillary Clinton is the candidate who set up a private email server and was — in the words of the director of the FBI — "extremely careless" in how she handled classified information.

And her campaign and the Democratic Party just got hacked. Yet, prominent leaders in the cybersecurity industry are coming out in favor of Clinton for president.

The scene is something you just can't make up.

Connie Hill of Columbus, Ohio, got some unsettling news after her son's 12-month checkup.

A nurse called to say that the 1-year-old's blood lead level test had come back as slightly elevated, which would put him in the top 2.5 percent of lead-exposed children ages 1 to 5 in the United States.

The public defenders office in Missouri says it's been overloaded for years: too many cases, too few attorneys, too little funding.

Last week, we asked a question: What does it mean to be a "feminist" in your country? How do your belief systems and cultural traditions shape your view of how a woman should exercise her rights?

As both parties struggle with unity this election, more non-traditional endorsements seem to be coming every day.

Several prominent Republicans announced this week that they plan to vote for Hillary Clinton and at least one high-profile Democrat has backed Donald Trump. Crossing over isn't new — there have been Obama Republicans, Reagan Democrats and a number of other defectors across the years.

Olympic fans, prepare to watch hookers in a scrum who hope not to end up in the sin bin.

The lexicon of rugby, and the men's game itself, return to Olympic competition after a 92-year absence. The return in Rio also involves a couple of debuts: It's the first Olympic appearance for women in the sport, and a first for Rugby Sevens. It's a seven-on-seven game. Traditional rugby has 13 or 15 a side.

Let's take a step back from the news of the past few days and ask a fundamental question: Why does everything suddenly seem different?

Donald Trump, the unsinkable candidate who seemed immune to political consequences while winning Republican presidential primaries month after month, now finds himself with an ailing campaign and a bad case of personal toxicity.

American women were not exactly a powerhouse at the 1972 Summer Olympics: They won just 23 medals, compared with 71 for the U.S. men. The women were absent from the medal podium in gymnastics. They didn't win a single gold in track and field, managing just one silver and two bronze.

But something else happened that year. The U.S. Congress passed Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in education programs receiving federal money. Sports wasn't the focus of Title IX. In fact, quite the opposite.

Daily fantasy sports sites may soon resume operations in New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a state law legalizing the multibillion-dollar industry.

Fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel suspended operations earlier this year, after the state's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, sued them for violating state law.

Schneiderman said that placing bets on fantasy sports was essentially gambling, which is illegal in New York.

The federal government announced plans Thursday to lift a moratorium on funding of certain controversial experiments that use human stem cells to create animal embryos that are partly human.

The National Institutes of Health is proposing a new policy to permit scientists to get federal money to make embryos, known as chimeras, under certain carefully monitored conditions.

When Haley Anderson competes at the Rio Olympics on Aug. 15, she'll be racing for about two hours in open water off Copacabana Beach. The marathon swim is not for the faint of heart. It's 10 kilometers, or 6.2 miles.

What does it take? "A certain kind of crazy," Anderson said with a grin. "You have to be a little weird to wanna put yourself through two hours or more of pain."

Libertarian Party candidates Gary Johnson and Bill Weld pitched themselves as the antidote to Washington partisanship in a CNN town hall, hoping to appeal to voters frustrated with both the Republican and the Democratic presidential nominees.

Both are former Republican governors — Johnson from New Mexico and Weld from Massachusetts — and told CNN's Anderson Cooper they align with most voters on both fiscal and social issues.

Hans Lienesch, also known as the Ramen Rater, made a career out of reviewing instant noodles, starting in 2002. The 41-year-old used to eat two packs a day, every day — but afterwards, he got sweaty, stressed out, and felt his heart rate go up. His doctor told him he was close to having high blood pressure, so, after a thousand reviews, he decided to cut back to just one pack of instant noodles a day.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Copyright 2017 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

You sneak them into backpacks and let them commingle with the video games (hoping some of the latter's appeal will rub off). You lay them around the kids' beds like stepping stones through the Slough of Despond and, for good measure, Vitamix them to an imperceptible pulp for the occasional smoothie.

Books are everywhere in your house, and yet ... they're not being consumed. Because it's summer, and kids have so many other things they'd rather do.

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